On 8 June the UK goes to the polls for the general election. Whoever assumes power will have a profound influence in shaping public policy in matters which affect us, our families, churches, patients and colleagues.
Some claim that politics and religion should not mix – ‘We don’t do God’, famously said spin doctor Alistair Campbell. But God is intimately involved in politics. He is sovereign over the rise and fall of nations. He establishes governing authorities, and holds them ultimately accountable. As Christians, we should both pray for our political leaders and be subject to them.
But God has also given us a part to play in who actually exercises civil authority. Each of us, before God and in good conscience, must make our own decisions about voting; but we have a duty before God to ensure that we exercise our votes wisely, thoughtfully and in an informed way.
For some, the key question will be about who they would prefer as prime minister for the next five years. For others it will be a matter of which specific issues they care about most and how the various parties and candidates stand on these.
Christians will want to be informed on the big headline issues of leadership, ‘Brexit’, the economy, health, education, welfare and immigration.
But we must also consider issues that are often forgotten in the mainstream press like marriage and family, sexuality, abortion, euthanasia and freedom of conscience.
Here are twelve questions – apart from health, education, crime and the economy – that Christian doctors might ask their candidates.
- Euthanasia – How will you ensure that euthanasia is not legalised in this country?
- Abortion – What will you do to stem the tide of abortions?
- Embryo-destructive research – Will you seek to repeal existing laws and prevent further liberalisation?
- Sexual health – What is your policy to arrest the spread of STIs?
- Poverty and Health – How will you ensure justice in healthcare for the developing world?
- Freedom of worship – How will you ensure that Christians are able to practise, share and defend their faith without being prosecuted?
- Marriage and family – What will you do to affirm, protect and support the traditional family?
- Addiction – How will you act to reduce alcohol, nicotine, drug and gambling addiction?
Present policy is aimed more at harm reduction than at restricting access (through price control) and effecting behaviour change.
- Obesity and Inactivity – What will you do to encourage the general population to adopt a healthy diet and get regular exercise?
- Marginalised groups – How will you ensure that vulnerable groups like the elderly, the mentally ill, ethnic minorities and asylum seekers receive an adequate basic level of healthcare and are not marginalised in healthcare allocation?
- NHS – How are you going to fund the health service better?
- Care – What are your plans to address the crisis in care provision and its lack of integration with the health service?
Whether we choose to vote for, or against, a particular party or candidate, or on a specific issue, there are lots of resources to help us reach our decision.
Several Christian campaigning groups have produced helpful resources which shed light on why and how our faith can inform our choice in the election, as well as how it can affect life and family issues:
- Evangelical Alliance: ‘What Kind of Society?’ explores the core Christian themes: ‘love’, ‘freedom’, ‘justice’ and ‘truth’, and how they affect what we should be asking and looking for in our candidates.
- CARE: engaGE 2017 gives a great overview of how the general election works, why Christians should vote and how to get involved. It focuses on family, marriage and life issues.
- Where do they Stand? is a helpful independent resource to find out where your local candidates stand on life issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and embryo research.
- Care Not Killing provides important information on how to think about end of life issues when considering which candidate to vote for and how to encourage candidates to think about and express these issues too.
- Christian Institute has a comprehensive list of resources. These include a briefing, which goes through the policies of each party, question cards, and how each MP voted on important ethical issues.
- Christian Concern has a brilliant ‘Election 2017’ website ‘the Power of the Cross’ which focuses on marriage, freedom and life issues: A Christian Vision, a Christian Voice, A Christian Vote.
These resources explain how important it is to vote and give helpful overviews on crucial issues. Of course, these are not just things to engage with at election time.
MPs are our representatives with the power to preserve or change our existing laws and country’s direction.
Let’s make use of all this valuable information in making an informed vote that really counts this June. But let’s also pray for the future of our country, and our health service.
For a brief rundown on why Christians should vote in the election, visit here.